In a many ways, Le report would not be possible without Diane Pernet; she has long been
a wellspring of inspiration. A modern Renaissance woman, Pernet’s taste and intelligence
come through everything she does. She has worn many hats throughout her career
including that of fashion designer, filmmaker, costume designer, and all around general
tastemaker. A Shaded View of Fashion marks an apotheosis of sorts. The woman who
pioneered fashion writing on the Internet has created a must-read website, and a must-
see film festival that combines her two loves: Fashion and Film. After multiple attempts
to coordinate schedules during the heady drama associated with running around
showrooms and shows during Paris Fashion Week Spring/Summer ’14,
we finally met near the Palais de Tokyo. And Diane—soft-spoken, alluring,
and captivating in black—did not disappoint.
What was your first encounter with fashion?
A little yellow cartwheel dress with zigzag trim that my grandmother made for my sister and me. I loved it. I felt
like a dancer in it and remember twirling around in it with the skirt flying around me like a saucer. It was so eye
opening how something like that could instantly transform your mood.
What was your style like in high school?
Quite conservative. I was a pom-pom girl. Picture stitched down pleated skirts, cashmere sweaters.
I used to get called into the office at school for having my skirts too short.
You have been a fashion designer and a costume designer, an editor, and a filmmaker.
What are the similarities and differences between these disciplines?
They are all totally different but revolve around fashion. As a fashion designer I was a creator, I had an idea, I
experimented and then I made it real. As a costume designer you work with a script and you create around the
characters. As an editor you report on what you find interesting. As a filmmaker you create an atmosphere and
as a curator you are a facilitator. The one ‘red thread’ that binds them together is
everything I’ve ever done is based on instinct.
What designers are you most passionate about?
Rick Owens, of course now and forever. Dries Van Noten, Haider Ackermann, Riccardo, Raf, in fact a lot of
Belgians. I also really appreciate Jun Takahashi Undercover, and Comme, and Junya.
How would you define your style today?
Personally, I think my style is pretty streamlined and simple. I think I actually intend for it to be somehow
elegant although I am conscious of the fact that it is also somehow unusual.
Believe it or not, I really don’t give my style much thought. Over the years, it has evolved into a consistent
recognizable foundation, which I’m constantly elaborating on and fine-tuning according to fit my mood or
what inspires me. People don’t often notice all the subtle changes day-to-day. Neither do many fashion people
for that matter. Some seem to imagine that I have a walk-in wardrobe with dozens of identical outfits lined up
like some woman with obsessive-compulsive disorder.
A few unpleasant lowlifes have even accused me of
wearing the same single outfit every day (I don’t), suggesting that I might not have time to wash them — and
that when I travel my suitcase is some kind of deception because there’s actually nothing in it.
I do understand that it’s not easy for most people to notice a new skirt length of mine, different textile textures,
small details or my latest accessories. I honestly don’t mind. And I honestly don’t care. Although I love color on
other people, I don’t love it on me. Personally, wearing black every day makes me feel strong. I know how it
might look. But, no, I’m not morbid and rest assured there’s no cult
or cauldron lurking in the shadows. I never get bored of my look or of wearing
black even if other people do. I just wear what I feel best in. It really is that simple.
What films/filmmakers do you most admire?
I adore the work of Mike Figgis, of course Timecode changed the landscape of independent filmmaking and as
far as fashion films go I loved the film The Four Dreams of Miss X with Kate Moss for Agent Provocateur,
brilliant fashion film. John Cassavetes, long dead but again another one that changed the landscape of
independent filmmaking. Rainer Werner Fassbinder, another revolutionary filmmaker.
Among the living:
Steve McQueen, early Polanski and definitely Polanski for Prada, A Therapy. Loved it.
I like different directors at different times in their careers, like
Almodovar, Lynch, Atom Egoyan, Tarantino, Jodorowsky, I would love to
see him make a fashion film. In the past: Pasolini, Visconti, Antonioni, Fellini.
What movie or movies have the most memorable costume Designers?
Peter Greenaway, The Cook, the Thief His Wife & Her Lover, Belle du Jour, The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant
by Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Death in Venice, Identification of a Woman and Leopard by Visconti,
Juliet of the Spirits and 8½ by Fellini, Teorema by Pier Paolo Pasolini…
Who was your first crush?
A boy named George when I was in first or second grade, he used to walk me home and pick flowers to make a
corsage for me. He was my first crush and I also think I had a crush on my History Teacher he had a patch on
one eye and a hook for a hand; he was quite handsome and obviously
had had quite a life. I was totally intrigued.
What is your favorite scent?
The one I’m currently working on. I’m in the process of creating 4 fragrances, after
one year we’ve arrived at the first one, it is a woody scent but
you’ll have to be kept in suspense until the release which could be a year from now.
When did you start wearing your veil and your custom Spider pieces? Why spiders?
They came separately. I don’t remember exactly. It just felt right so I started to wear a veil. I guess when I was
growing up I always loved to wear a black mantilla when I went to church, the spiders came later when my
friend Mario Salvucci, who used to create the jewelry for my fashion shows in NYC in the 80’s started making
jewelry again maybe 5 years ago and his first piece was inspired by me, the spider, a creature that people are
either drawn to and fascinated or totally repulsed by…
Do you have any hidden talents?
Not that I know of.
What is your favorite aspect of life in Paris?
I just feel comfortable here. I am a foreigner and regardless of the fact that I’ve lived here for 23 years I will
always be a foreigner because that is the way it is and I am happy with that.
It’s a beautiful city and it never ceases to amaze me.
Life without Fashion an art I cannot imagine what that would be like.
What is Diane Pernet like at home; behind closed doors (what do you wear, read; what
television shows do you watch; do you have any pets; what books do you read; wine,
tea, coffee etc…)? Can you describe a perfect evening?
I like much the same behind closed doors as I do in public. The only exception perhaps is when I am relaxing in
my red kimono. I haven’t had a tv in years, I do watch films and I love mysteries. I can watch the same Alfred
Hitchock films or Hercule Poirot series without ever tiring of them or Sherlock Holmes for that matter. I have
had all kinds of pets in the past cats, birds and been godmother to two English bulldogs; but I have no desire for
any pets and it does not work with my lifestyle. I love to read if I find an author I like I read everything I can find
that they have written. I love Haruki Murakami, the first book I read of his was The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
and I think by now I’ve read everything he’s written to date. I like Paul Auster, one of my all time favorite books
is Memoirs of Hadrian by Marguerite Yourcenar, I just finished
The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry by Jon Ronson, quite impressive
study of psychopaths and madness and I love auto biographies.
I love tea, green, white, black and blue. One favorite is Tie Guan Yin; it is from the mountains in
Taiwan and an Oolong tea, Iron Goddess of Mercy, quite expensive and very special.
I rarely drink coffee unless I’m in Italy then I enjoy it, it is much better
there than in Paris but I am really a tea drinker. A quiet Japanese
dinner with a friend or two. I prefer one on one or small groups, maybe 3 max 4. I’m not a late night person. I
don’t drink alcohol except on very rare occasions and sometimes sake.
What makes you happy?
Discovering new places, meeting inspiring people and sharing
some quiet times with a few close friends. I do what I love so basically I think I’m fairly happy.
Adam Katz Sinding